Health Insurance for Young Adults: FAQ

Medically Reviewed by Sarah Goodell on September 14, 2022

If you're a young person in your late teens or early 20s who is a student, looking for a job, or working, you have options for health insurance you may not know about.


I've heard I can stay on my parents' health insurance plan. Is that true?

Yes. The law allows you to stay on your parents' health plan up to age 26.


What if I'm in school or already married? Will my parents' health insurance still cover me?

Yes. You can remain on your parents' health insurance plan until age 26, even if you're a student or married.

Adding you to your parents' policy could increase what they have to pay each month for a premium. Family coverage costs more than individual coverage or for an individual plus a spouse.

Do I have to be living with my parents to be on their health insurance?

No. You don't need to live with your parents or even in the same state to be covered by your parents' insurance policy.

You can be on their insurance plan until you turn 26, even if you're working and are not financially dependent upon your parents.

If I have to enroll in a health plan in my state's Marketplace, what are the most affordable plans?

If you buy a plan through your state's Marketplace, you'll have a choice of health plans at different levels of coverage, all at different costs.

Here are some health plans that will likely appeal to young adults because of their lower monthly payments:

  • Catastrophic plans cover preventive care and at least three primary care visits a year, even if you have not yet paid all the deductible. The deductible for these plans in 2022 will be as high as $8,700 for one adult and $17,400 for a family.
  • Bronze plan: You pay 40% of the cost of care, on average, and the plan pays 60%.
  • Sliver plan: You pay 30% of the cost of care on average, and the plan pays 70%.

On your state's Marketplace, you may be eligible for financial aid depending on how much money your family makes in a year and the size of your family. One type of aid is a tax credit, which lowers how much you have to pay each month for your insurance premium. Another type of aid is a cost-sharing subsidy, which saves you money when you get health care by lowering the deductibles and copays or coinsurance. The cost-sharing subsidy is only available on silver plans. 

Do I really need health insurance if I'm young and healthy?

That's a question only you can answer, but here are some things to consider.

You'll be more likely to get preventive care  when you have insurance. That can help you stay healthy.Many preventive health services are available to you without having to pay out-of-pocket costs at the time of your visit.

If you use prescription birth control, you'll save money if you have insurance. All health plans*  provide contraceptive counseling and FDA-approved birth control at no additional cost. That includes birth control pills (oral contraceptives ), diaphragms, and the shot Depo Provera . Of course, you'll still need a prescription for those types of birth control.

One illness or accident without insurance can cost you a lot. Being treated in the emergency room for a urinary tract infection or a sprained ankle , for instance, could cost you thousands of dollars. See " Can You Afford Not to Have Insurance?" to compare costs with and without insurance.

* Grandfathered health plans (those that have been in existence since March 2010 and have not substantially changed) and short-term health plans (those that offer coverage for less than 12 months) do not have to offer free birth control.

Show Sources


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Young Adults: The Top Five Things You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act;" "Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act; " "Glossary: High Deductible Health Plan;" and "Glossary: Catastrophic Plan." “The fee you pay if you don’t have health coverage.”

Kaiser Health News: "Despite Fear of Sticker Shock, Most Young Adults Should Have Reasonable Plan Options On Exchanges."

National Women's Law Center: "Contraceptive Coverage in the New Health Care Law."

U.S. Department of Labor: "Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act: Protecting Young Adults and Eliminating Burdens on Businesses and Families."

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Health Reform Source: "How will the health reform law help people with their out-of-pocket expenses?

Health Insurance 101: "Standardizing Health Plans."

America's Debt Help Organization: "Emergency Rooms vs. Urgent Care: Differences in Services and Costs."

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): "Why do you need health Insurance?"

Young Invincibles: "Implementing the Affordable Care Act for Young Invincibles."

The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight: "Glossary of Health Coverage and Medical Terms."

Caldwell, N. PLoS One: "'How Much Will I Get Charged for This?' Patient Charges for Top Ten Diagnoses in the Emergency Department."


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